Attending Tableau Conference for the first time

We connected with six new Tableau Conference attendees to learn more about their experiences.

Tableau Conference is one of the most anticipated events of the year for data lovers worldwide—and with over 100k attendees, 2021 was no exception. With Tableau User Group watch parties, DataFam virtual and in person meetups, and Iron Viz, the spirit of the Tableau Community was in full force. Being a TC first-timer this year, it was amazing to experience the DataFam magic first hand. 

As a Tableau Conference “newbie”, I wanted to seek out other TC first-timers to learn more about their experiences. I connected with six new Tableau Conference attendees: 

Antonin Cajka, Data Visualization Lead at Publicis Groupe 
Elisa Rodriguez, Marketing Officer at Defence Housing Australia
Lili Weinstein, Data Analyst at Jessie Ball duPont Fund
DataKoData, Data Analyst and VTuber in the Aerospace Industry
Ram Sarma, Data Analyst at Siemens
Felix Wolf, PhD student within the MSCA project ‘ABC-EU-XVA’

Dive into my interview with them and hear their fresh perspectives on TC21. 

What encouraged you to attend Tableau Conference for the first time this year?

Elisa: Tableau skills are part of my current professional development, and when I realized this event was online and free, I simply couldn't miss it. 

@DataKoData: I have only been using Tableau for about two years, but it astounds me the sheer amount of community connection there is. It's more of a lifestyle than software! I wanted to attend the virtual conference to learn more about Tableau and how I can use it at work and connect with others who use it.

Felix: I work in academia in a field where data is usually visualized in a relatively dry and sober way, for which most people use basic tools. I am always interested in finding ways to present my data that look more appealing but not less trustworthy, so specific tools like Tableau appeal to me. 

Lili: This summer, I started using Tableau at work, and when I saw ads for TC21, I figured I might as well. The fact the conference was online made the barrier to entry (read: my fear of conferences) much lower. I was also really encouraged by the wide array of speakers/sessions and that one of the "tracks" was geared towards nonprofits!

What were your initial thoughts (maybe on Day 1 of TC) that encouraged you to stay?

Ram: I was surprised by the self-driven nature of the conference. The freedom to pick and choose the topics I wanted to explore was a big part of it.

Lili: After day one, I was looking forward to sessions on days 2 and 3. The opening keynote at the beginning of the day made me feel great about using the software, so I was thrilled to learn more about it. I was a bit intimidated, but chatting with fellow conference-goers on Slack had gotten easier throughout the day, so I figured it was only up from there. And I could not have been more right! I might have underestimated just how good it would get.

What are your top episodes readers should watch on-demand and why?

Antonin: Iron Viz! One learns new techniques and explores the hidden functionalities. Watch the 2021 Iron Viz championship

@DataKoData: Definitely watch the speed tips! The speed tips are so full of things you can IMMEDIATELY take into your personal use of Tableau, so it's just 100% pure concentrated awesome!

Ram: My top episodes gave me a chance to explore the connection between Tableau and some topics that are important to me: Data Ethics, Data Literacy, supporting Indigenous peoples, Data availability etc. My top episodes were:

Bland to Bold: Dashboarding Tips from Professional Graphic Designers 
Data Democratization and Adoption: Enabling Your People Through Data Sharing 
Data, Ethics, and Leadership in 2021
How to Become an Advocate for Data Literacy 
Indigenous Data EmPOWERment

Did you make any connections with other members of the Tableau Community during the Conference? If so, can you share more about that?

@DataKoData: I did! I submitted a product idea in the Slack workspace and have met with someone from the Tableau team to discuss it in more detail. I got some great ideas from that conversation and how I can improve my workbook design.

Lili: I did make connections! I had no idea what to expect as far as post-conference went, but because there was a conference Slack channel, I was able to connect with a fellow Tableau user in the nonprofit world, as well as two other newbies. Workout Wednesday and Makeover Monday will be tremendously helpful in my growth as a Tableau user, and I wouldn't have found out about those without TC, either. I also joined the Tableau Community Zoom hangouts, which, to be honest, was a bit nerve-wracking at first, but I'm so glad I joined.

What was the most valuable part of your TC experience?

Lili: Community, community, COMMUNITY! I was a bit skeptical of everyone talking up the community all the time at first, but now I am happy to be part of that group. I had no idea there was such a robust community around Tableau - especially not one that is so kind and welcoming. Besides the community aspect, I'm looking forward to incorporating some of the accessible design practices I learned, and I'll never forget what I learned during my Braindate sessions.

Elisa: All the practical tips on the workshops were amazing but mainly about the Tableau Community Projects.

@DataKoData: The Slack conversations and connections were the most valuable. Realizing that, even though I'm no giant in the community, there's still space for my voice and opinions. Going into my new side venture as a "data VTuber", I was a bit anxious that people wouldn't be interested in some random person's opinions, but I don't think that way anymore.

What’s next after TC? Where are you taking your learnings, experiences, connections with the DataFam?

@DataKoData: I'm working through one particular theme on my channel, but when that's through, I will be a lot more active with Tableau, spreadsheets, and other data topics. I'm also considering getting Tableau Desktop certified to have something more solid to show my value to my company.

Ram: I hope to enhance and contribute to the data culture at my workplace and become competent in using Tableau. I am also hoping to reach out to people in my area to meet up and discuss all things Tableau.

Elisa: I have been trying to figure out where I want to take my career; I have been in marketing and digital technologies for a while, I started looking at AI but still felt like something else was missing, and I think I found it!

I've always liked data and reviewing if the methodology, campaigns etc., are working, but most of the time, I end up with huge, ugly and sometimes useless reporting. After seeing all this, I believe Tableau can help me close the gap and support projects, changes, and more by presenting meaningful data more interactively.

I am trying to make a habit of weekly practice and start interacting more with the community.

Lili: After TC, I made a professional Twitter - a rite of passage for every 20-something professional. I'm hoping to attend many User Groups (and maybe even start my own!), go deeper into the Tableau blueprint, and get over my fear of the forums. I will also be putting space in between the different colors in my horizontal bar graphs (thank you to Emily Kund for that tip on making graphs accessible!) and thinking more about accessible and Good Data. Whether these things happen or not, I'm excited to use #DataFam to tweet about it.

What are you looking forward to for Tableau Conference 2022?

Ram: I'm looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and interacting with as many people as possible. I will also focus on understanding multiple perspectives in the context of Tableau.

@DataKoData: If the conference is in person, and my company approves it for me to attend, that would be awesome! Otherwise, I would hope that some amount of online connection will also be possible going into the future for those who are unable to attend.

Lili: I am so hoping that TC22 is in person! Now that my fear of TC is out of the way, I'm hoping I'll fit right in at an in-person event. I can only imagine what cool people and sessions will be at the conference next year. My only guarantee is that I'll be better at using Tableau - hopefully, I'll have a question that poses a challenge to a Zen Master!